I have just finished reading The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to HighSchool–How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle that thoroughly investigates all aspects of the bullying behavior. Ms. Coloroso opened my eyes on the fact that modern society seems to focus only on the bully’s actions instead of the underlying reasons which cause such behavior.
Children who are being bullied experience insecurity and humiliation, which may result in lowering of self-esteem and even suicide. Many young students do not talk about what is happening to them, so you have to indicate their suffering through changes in mood and behaviour.
So what are symptoms indicating that a child is being bullied?
- Fear of travelling to and from school alone
- Refusal to go to school
- Loss of concentration; changes in mood or behaviour
- Anxiety or distress, resulting in physical illnesses e.g. stomach aches, nightmares, bedwetting
- Bruising, etc
There are many other signs that you have to watch out.
1. What is bullying?
Make sure that students and you share the same understanding of what bullying behaviour is and why bullying is unacceptable. Explain to your students the various types of bullying behaviour.
Department of Education and Training of Western Australia suggests that bullying takes many forms and can include:
- Verbal Bullying: The repeated use of words to hurt or humiliate another individual or group.
- Psychological Bullying: Includes repeated stalking, threats or implied threats, unwanted email or text messaging, abusive websites, threatening gestures, manipulation, emotional blackmail, and threats to an individual’s reputation and sense of safety.
- Relational Bullying: Usually involves repeatedly ostracizing others by leaving them out or convincing others to exclude or reject another individual or group from their social connections, making up or spreading rumours, and sharing or threatening to share another’s personal information.
- Physical Bullying: Includes repetitive low level hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, tripping, “ganging up”, unwanted physical or sexual touching, and damage to personal property.
- Cyber Bullying: Involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, text messages, instant messaging, and websites to engage in the bullying of other individuals or groups. This technology provides an alternative means for verbal, relational, and psychological forms of bullying.
- Bystanders to Bullying: Bullying also involves the concept of “bystanders”. A bystander may be someone who sees bullying or knows about it, but he or she is not usually directly involved. Everyone at the school can have a role in supporting those who are being bullied. All members of the whole school community need to be aware of their role in supporting those who are being bullied and their responsibility to discourage bullying behaviours when they observe them. Any member of the school community can be a bystander and can act successfully to prevent or stop bullying. Sometimes it is difficult to act at the time of the bullying incident, but reporting bullying behaviour is also important. Bystanders are encouraged to report to someone who can help, such as a member of the school staff.
2. Investigation and punishment of Bullying Incidents.
Each Bullying incident must be investigated and punished when needed. Make sure to notify parents and take a no blame approach while acting as facilitator and intermediary between the bully and a victim. If bullying occurs again, apply sanctions, including, but not limited to, assigning extra task, limiting play area, detention.
3. Get other students involved.
Ask the victim to suggest the names of the classmates who he/she feels comfortable with and who would help solve the problem. Form the group and make sure that there is a balance between reliable students and those who has a bad behaviour. Explain to them that there is a problem and that their friend needs help. Don’t discuss specific incidents or blame the other student. Just explain how their friend is feeling.
Make sure to point out that you are not going to punish them, but they have been chosen to help solve the problem. Ask the group to share their ideas on how to help their classmate and pass the responsibility for the problem over the group. Remember, it can’t be forced and is volunteer-based. Thank the group for their support and involvement. Suggest arranging another meeting to follow up how things are going.
Young children will be eager to participate in such activity, as they will feel adult-like and important.
4. Conduct Classroom Activities around Bullying.
Young students will enjoy activities related to anti-bullying. Read a book about bullying to the children and ask them to identify bullying behavior. Discuss the impact of that bullying, why bullying is bad, and how it was/could be resolved. It’s called inquiry-based learning, which has a significant impact on student learning and analysis skills.
You can check the books of Sherill Cannon who specializes on anti-bullying literature for young children. Her books are famous among primary ESL teachers, educators and parents alike.
My favourite is Gimme Jimmy and the Magic Word. You can watch a book review here: